Two short papers accepted for DIS 2019

I’m happy to announce that I had two short papers accepted for the 2019 ACM conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS).

The first paper, titled “Participatory Design and the Future of Rural LGBTQ Communities,” documents preliminary results from a series of participatory design workshops. It describes the LGBTQ Futures Project, a collaborative and community-based research project that uses participatory design to understand how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in rural places experience community and technology. We highlight the resource needs among our participants, how they differ between rural students and non-students, and how rural LGBTQ people envision the future of social technology that is designed explicitly for their needs. You can take a gander at the PDF pre-print here.

The second paper, titled “How the Design of Social Technology Fails Rural America,” is a “provocation” (a unique paper style for this conference) and argues that, unless we abandon growth and scalability as metrics of success in social technologies, we will never be able to appropriately design for rural places. You can see the PDF pre-print here.

Attending iConference 2019

Hey y’all,

I’m looking forward to attending the iConference next week (March 31-April 3) in College Park, Maryland. The iConference is the annual meeting of the iSchools Organization, the collective of schools, colleges, and departments doing work in areas related to information science, library science, informatics, and information technology. I’ll be taking part in the day-long Doctoral Colloquium on Sunday, where I’ll be presenting and getting feedback from peers and faculty mentors on my ongoing dissertation research. I’ll be sticking around through Wednesday to listen to all the great talks and meet friends a new faces from iSchools all around the world, so if you see me, say hi!

How Rural America is Saving Itself

Another think piece on rural America popped up in the New York Times a couple weeks ago. As you’d expect, it painted a picture of rural areas as backwards, behind the times, and unable to catch up or keep up with the needs of a supposedly tech-dominated economy. I wrote a bit of a tweet-storm, which was picked up by some folks over at The Atlantic, who asked me to expand on it for an article on their CityLab site. I was more than happy to oblige.

Read it here: “How Rural America is Saving Itself”

“Rural Computing: Beyond access & infrastructure” workshop at CSCW 2018

Hello all,

I’ve been busy leading the organizing (with Dharma Dailey, Susan Wyche, and Norman Makoto Su) of a workshop being held at CSCW 2018 in Jersey City, NJ on November 4. The workshop, titled “Rural Computing: Beyond access & infrastructure,” is going to be an amazing opportunity to bring together researchers who are currently doing research in and on rural communities and their uses of technology. Head on over to our website ( to check out the agenda and participants (and their papers). We’ll likely be organizing some sort of follow-up activities and/or publication opportunities, so if you are interested in being involved, shoot me an email (

So what is a participatory design workshop?

This blog post is crossposted from my ongoing participatory design project – The LGBTQ Futures Project.

The LGBTQ Futures Project uses a research method that is called participatory design. In our case, the words “participatory” and “design” have multiple meanings. In this blog post, we will walk you through a little bit of the history of participatory design and then outline what these words mean to us. If you are looking for a more thorough treatment of participatory design, see Michael Muller’s book chapter on the topic, “Participatory Design: The Third Space in HCI.”

Participatory design is a research movement that got it’s start in the 1970s in Scandinavia. It started out as part of a labor rights movement that sought to further democratize the workplace by involving workers in designing future work processes. It has since grown into a method that is deployed in a variety of settings in and out of the workplace, with many different populations. We especially appreciate Lucy Suchman’s words, which we first read in Muller’s chapter:

“The agenda in the case of [participatory] design becomes working for the presence of multiple voices not only in knowledge production, but in the production of technologies as knowledges objectified in a particular way.”

We take this quote to mean that participatory design is a way for researchers (and designers) to intentionally take into account varied perspectives, and to question and change the way that knowledge produced from design research is created. In building on this history and respecting the work that went into making this research method what it is, our project looks at both “participatory” and “design” in a few different ways.

First, participatory for us comes through both in the ways that the workshops operate and how our research team and project is constructed. Our workshops are structured in a way so that all participants have opportunities to share, in a safe environment, their experiences and thoughts about the future of technology for LGBTQ people. Participatory for us also comes through in our desire to shine a light on perspectives of people that are rarely, if ever, intentionally heard in the process of creating new and adapting current social technology. Our research team is participatory in that we are made up of people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences in LGBTQ community. We also intentionally are made up of people who either have lived or currently live in the region in which we perform our research.

Second, when most people think of design they think of a designer sitting at a desk in front of a computer working on some advanced software or with a drawing utensil in hand. What we mean when we talk about the word design, is that we are interested in what the future of technology does. Another way to think about this is through “design as inquiry.” Design as inquiry is a way that we as researchers can leverage design to leverage other people’s perspectives (i.e. participatory) and create new knowledge about future perceptions of technology. In other words, we use design as a process through which we ask our workshop participants questions and get them to create mock-ups of future technology that is designed explicitly for their identities.

Participatory design workshops, for us, are the process of intentionally creating space to elicit our participants’ own knowledge of their experiences in order to collectively think about what the future of technology looks like and does for rural LGBTQ people.

New journal article published on location-tracking technologies in health research

Hello everyone,

I am happy to announce that our paper, “User Acceptance of Location-Tracking Technologies in Health Research: Implications for Study Design and Data Quality,” was accepted to the Journal of Biomedical Informatics. This paper was a pretty big undertaking with a lot of background work and I’d like to thank my co-authors for their wherewithal: Tiffany Veinot, Jacob Yan, Veronica Berrocal, Philippa Clarke, Robert Goodspeed, Iris Gomez-Lopez, Daniel Romero, and VG Vinod Vydiswaran. The abstract is below and you can download and read a pre-print PDF of the paper.


Research regarding place and health has undergone a revolution due to the availability of consumer-focused location-tracking devices that reveal fine-grained details of human mobility. Such research requires that participants accept such devices enough to use them in their daily lives. There is a need for a theoretically grounded understanding of acceptance of different location-tracking technology options, and its research implications. Guided by an extended Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), we conducted a 28-day field study comparing 21 chronically ill people’s acceptance of two leading, consumer-focused location-tracking technologies deployed for research purposes: 1) a location-enabled smartphone, and 2) a GPS watch/activity tracker. Participants used both, and completed two surveys and qualitative interviews. Findings revealed that all participants exerted effort to facilitate data capture, such as by incorporating devices into daily routines and developing workarounds to keep devices functioning. Nevertheless, the smartphone was perceived to be significantly easier and posed fewer usability challenges for participants than the watch. Older participants found the watch significantly more difficult to use. For both devices, effort expectancy was significantly associated with future willingness to participate in research although prosocial motivations overcame some concerns. Social influence, performance expectancy and use behavior were significantly associated with intentions to use the devices in participants’ personal lives. Data gathered via the smartphone was significantly more complete than data gathered via the watch, primarily due to usability challenges. To make longer-term participation in location tracking research a reality, and to achieve complete data capture, researchers must minimize the effort involved in participation; this requires usable devices. For long-term location-tracking studies using similar devices, findings indicate that only smartphone-based tracking is up to the challenge.

Panel accepted to 4S Sydney

Hello everyone,

Stephen Molldrem (UMich), Roderic Crooks (UC Irvine), and I are organizing an open panel for the 2018 meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science, happening in Sydney August 29-September 1. The panel seeks to bring people together doing research in the realms of computing, biomedicine, and/or queer studies to have big picture conversations about how biomedicine and computing shape contemporary queer society and subjectivity. Abstracts are due on the 4S website by February 1 – email me if you have any questions (jkhardy at umich dot edu). Full call below!



64. Digital sexualities, biomedical practice, and queer realities
Stephen Molldrem, University of Michigan; Jean Hardy, University of Michigan; Roderic Crooks, University of California-Irvine
There is now a rich body of literature dedicated to exploring how sexualities are experienced in digital spaces and how digital technologies affect the formation of queer identities and the sexual lives of individuals, groups and communities. Further, sexuality studies and queer studies have generated a great deal of knowledge about how sexual categories generated in biomedical contexts are historically produced and internalized through biomedical discourse and clinical practice. However, scholars are just starting to bring these areas of inquiry together to describe how technoscientific practices (e.g. interface design), biomedical advances such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV/AIDS, and digital technologies (from commercial physical activity trackers to clinical electronic health records) are productive of new queer realities and conditions of sexual possibility.

In this open panel, we ask: how can we think about queer sexualities as both a product of digital technologies and technoscientific practices, and as phenomena that recursively influence shifts in biomedicine, digital design trends, and uses of clinical and non-clinical digital technologies to represent or shape queer life? How do digital technologies and biomedical discourses produce novel sexual minority identities or subjectivities, queer subcultures and counterpublics, modes of punishing sexual deviance, or relations between sexual pleasure and risk? We invite submissions that address any of these topics, but encourage papers that place studies of digital technology and biomedicine in conversation with sexuality/queer studies. We particularly encourage papers that situate themselves within the emergent field of Queer STS.